Not only is Vicki Gunvalson the OG of the OC, she’s really the OG of the entire Housewives franchise. As the only still-standing cast member of Bravo’s original Housewives city, Vicki really set the standard for what it has meant from the very beginning to be a Real Housewife. Somewhere between her plethora of Woohoos, plastic surgery, peeing-just-a-little-on-the-bed, hard partying and hard work, Vicki has cemented herself into the Bravo psyche.
Vicki Gunvalson was born Victoria Steinmetz on March 27, 1962 in Chicago. She grew up in the suburbs of Mount Prospect and Paletine, where she attended Fremed High School. Vicki has four siblings: adopted sisters Kim & Kathy, sister Lisa and brother Bill, who has made multiple appearances on The Real Housewives of Orange County. She probably learned her business savvy from her father who owned Steinmetz Acoustical Construction Company but her mother, a stay-at-home housewife, may have taught her a thing or two about her future career on Bravo! Vicki describes her family as close-knit and remembers her childhood fondly.
At the age of 21, Vicki married her first husband, Michael J Wolfsmith. The couple had two children, Michael and Briana Wolfsmith, who have both appeared regularly on the show since Season 1. When her marriage ended at the age of 29, Vicki became a single mother with no college degree. Rather than seeing her situation as an obstacle, Vicki imagined a world of opportunity. Her determination, passion, and drive to succeed pushed Vicki to build Coto Insurange & Financial Services, Inc which she proceeded to grow into one of the most successful insurance agencies and financial services companies in the US. Vicki married Donn Gunvalson in July 1994. Throughout the early seasons of RHOC, we watched the ups and downs of Vicki and Donn’s marital struggles and in October of 2010 it was reported that they were divorcing. Vicki believes appearing on the show contributed to the breakdown of her marriage saying “There’s some really great things that have come from the show. But one of the downsides was that it broke up my family, and that’s tough to take.”
These days, Vicki is still focused on her business and devoted to her family. Over the last two seasons, Vicki has been involved with a man named Brooks Ayers and the couple have stuck it out despite serious objections to the relationship from her family and fellow cast-mates.
During RHOC Season 7, Vicki’s daughter Briana shared some pretty suprising news with her mother in front of Bravo cameras– she had eloped with Marine Ryan Culberson. Briana and Ryan welcomed their first son, Troy William Culberson on September 28, 2012 and Vicki shared the happy news in January 2014 that they were expecting baby boy #2. After his most recent tour in Afghanistan, Ryan learned that he will likely be stationed at a base in Oklahoma so this season we’ll be watching Vicki prepare for the very real possibility that Briana and her family will have to move far away. We’re also expecting to see Vicki still trying to work things out with Brooks this season. Supposedly they’ve both had counseling and Vicki has forgiven Brooks for past actions (including the bombshell news that surfaced at the Season 8 reunion that Brooks had advised Briana’s husband Ryan to keep his wife in line by hitting her…yikes).
Whatever happens in RHOC Season 9 (set to premiere April 14, 2014!!) Vicki is sure to keep us on our toes. After managing to stay relevant and engaging while filming nine seasons of The Real Housewives of Orange County, clearly Vicki is doing something right. On March 21, 2014, Vicki became the recipient of Bravo’s first ever Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the first annual Real Housewives Awards. If anyone deserves to be recognized for her contribution to the Housewives franchise and the network as a whole, it’s definitely the OG herself: Vicki Gunvalson!